Home > All Posts > Individual Post
Post #763

Re: [videoblogging] conventions vs. standards

By M. Sean Gilligan | "M. Sean Gilligan" <seanlist@...> | M_Sean_Gilligan
August 19, 2004 | Post #763 | Topic #733

Hi Lucas, et. al. I'll start this response with one of my favorite quotes: "The great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from." -- Computer Industry Joke (don't know who coined it.) At 5:14 PM -0400 8/19/04, Lucas Gonze wrote: >On Thu, 19 Aug 2004, M. Sean Gilligan wrote: >>> we need to do something about this different codec bullshit. >>> why is this such a hassle? >>> is there a solution? >> >> I think a set of conventions can minimize the hassle. > >First off, yes. Conventions do good. But conventions are not the same as >standards. By "conventions" I meant things like the guidelines in my previous message and referenced by Jay in his blog: http://momentshowing.typepad.com/momentshowing/2004/08/codecs_drive_me.html I also think that XML files for copyright, metadata, and format info could be a useful convention that could become a standard. (This is the RSS/Atom thing I need to think about some more...) Of course there are probably about 100 different "standards" for this sort of thing already. > Word is a convention, Word is more than a convention, it is a standard. It is a de facto, proprietary standard controlled by a single vendor, but it is a "standard". There is an alternative open standard from OpenOffice (http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?wg_abbrev=office) but how many people actually use it? > TCP/IP is a standard. TCP enables >global communication, Word enables communication within a restricted pool >of users. Not to defend/promote MS, but Word enables global communication. I exchange Word documents with people all over the world. I have no choice -- Word is what people use and send to me. > >There exist all kinds of conventions. QuickTime is one, certainly on >Macs. But QT doesn't play in Real (which was the main video convention >for Windows machines in the 90s), Real doesn't play in QT, Windows Media >(coming on very strong now) doesn't play in QuickTime or Real, and >QuickTime and Real don't play in Windows Media Player. It's not that simple, as you know. Some QT files play in Windows and Real. QT plays .avi files. > >All of these play MP4, needless to say, because it's a standard rather >than a convention. I don't think that Windows Media and Real Player support MP4 "out of box". (i.e. the millions of people that have them installed, can't play MP4s without installing additional software.) I'd love to be wrong on this, BTW. There is no single standard called "MP4". There is a collection of evolving standards called "MPEG-4". There is an .mp4 file format (based on QuickTime .mov and almost identical.) Within an .mp4 file there can be a variety of codecs, such as H.263, MPEG-4 Video, H.264/AVC for video and "MP3", AAC, etc. for audio. Within the MPEG-4 video standard there are a variety of "profiles" such as "Simple Profile" and "Advanced Simple Profile". QuickTime can't play "Advanced Simple Profile" (yet) "3GPP" format is a subset of MPEG-4 defined for cellular phones that can only play a subset of MPEG-4 files. Some "MPEG-4" implementations such as DivX put MPEG-4 encoded media in .avi format files. Futher, there are patents that prevent MPEG-4 from being widely adopted and distributed at no cost. That is (one reason) why the BBC is funding development of yet another codec: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/040812/175/f06i1.html > >Imagine if you could only swap emails with other Mac users, and how much >smaller your internet would be. That's the difference between a standard >and a convention. No, that's the difference between a "standard" with a small installed base and a "standard" with a large installed base. (Someone once said that "the difference between a 'religion' and a 'cult' is the size of its membership".) Don't get me wrong, I think MP4 is very cool and is, or at least should be, one of the leading standards. Apple has bet QuickTime's future on MPEG-4 and will be heavily promoting the newest MPEG-4 codec H.264/AVC. I've deployed MPEG-4 content in a variety of incompatible ways based on various "conventions" (or collections of "standards") that are used by different groups. Anyway, I'm trying to follow my proposed guidelines for discussing video formats on this list: 1) Accept that people will want to author and/or view with other formats and that the right solution may vary depending upon the application 2) Be open-minded about formats other than those you know and love. 3) Produce vblogs that highlight the advantages of your preferred format(s). 4) Work together to find ways for multiple formats to co-exist Hopefully, I have succeeded, so far. It sounds like you have experience with MP4 and it may be your preferred format, as well. Further, it sounds like you are suggesting that some collection of MPEG-4 standards/conventions be adopted to "enable global communication". If so, I think that is a great approach, but we'll still need to define which MP4 we are standardizing on. Is there a set of conventions/standards that you recommend for putting MPEG-4 files in a blog and/or webpage? If so, what target audience of viewers currently is able to use that standard? In my previous message I said: "There will be standard formats/codecs that are widely supported and some vblogs may just choose one, but a set of conventions for indicating what is available will help to make things easier for everyone." Is there an example of such a videoblog that uses MP4 that can be viewed with more than one player? Regards, Sean -- --------------------------------------------------------------------------- M. Sean Gilligan : 831-466-9788 x11 Catalla Systems, Inc. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------